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Jeff Tedford Roundtable: Is This Season His Last?

Is this Jeff Tedford's final season at Cal? The California Golden Bears are 1-4 going into their homecoming game with the 4-1 UCLA Bruins, and many tough foes await.

Harry How - Getty Images

Do you believe this is Tedford's last season?

unclesam22: I can't see any possible way it cannot be. Last year was not nearly as dismal but at least there was the built in AT&T excuse and the desire to see him stick around to re-open Memorial. This season it's clear he doesn't seem have any answers for what is wrong with this team and quite honestly, they are just undisciplined and unfocused. That has to fall on the coach. If he stays for one more season, recruiting will fall off again, the downward momentum will continue even more, and the fan base just might riot. None of these options are good ones. Honestly, as big of a Tedford fan as I am, it just feels like it's over.

atomsareenough: It's hard to say of course, mostly because it's completely out of our hands. But this is where we're at right now: barring a miraculous turnaround that I'm pretty sure most of us don't think is even remotely likely, we will have a losing season. We should be able to scrounge up at least another win or two from the rest of the schedule, but in all likelihood, just based on how things look right now, we're probably looking at a 3-9 season. We're clearly more talented than Wazzu and Utah, so hopefully the talent will win out in those games, though they are away games so who knows. I don't really see us beating any teams that have a similar talent level and better execution, though. Maybe we'll beat Washington and lose to Utah or something, but 3-9 sounds about right at the moment. If we beat UCLA, depending on how we play maybe I'll revise it slightly to 4-8 or 5-7, but I'm not sanguine about our chances against the Bruins, to say the least.

So, looks like we're on our way to a losing season. If that happens, I'd like to think Tedford is a goner. Based on our preseason predictions the consensus was that we expected 7-8 wins this season. We won 7 games last year. That was our baseline. If we got some bad bounces and only won 6 it would have been a little bit of underachievement, if we won 9 or more it would have been impressive. But there's no real excuse for such a big step backward to 5-7 or worse. There just isn't. I'd like to think that a losing season would be a red line for Sandy Barbour & co.

norcalnick: Basically, what do I think Sandy Barbour is thinking. That's a hard question to answer. If we're working under the assumption that anything less than a bowl appearance means the end, then yes, this will be Tedford's last season.

Cal's performances thus far haven't offered any evidence that the type of talent and team cohesion exist to win another three games, let alone another five. Maybe if Cal starts the year against Southern Utah, maybe if Tedford converts that 4th and one, maybe if the Pac-12 schedule started against Wazzu instead of USC - maybe then everything happens differently.

But right now this team is 1-4, they've looked and played like a 1-4 team, and soon they will be enjoying the type of fan support and enthusiasm a 1-4 team generates. And that's why there will probably be a change.

Kodiak: Based on the way the team is playing, it's tough to project that we'll make it to .500. In that case, I believe that this is Tedford's last season. For many reasons, it saddens me greatly.

Do you believe it should be Tedford's last season?

unclesam22: Yes. I haven't seen anything on the field from this team that makes me think that Tedford is A) Capable of getting the best out of these players and B) Able to get this team pointed in the upward direction again. I have to think that Sandy sees this as well and there is no way she wants to have a half full new stadium with another 4-8ish team playing in it again. I can't really put my finger on why Tedford has seemingly lost "it" so quickly and in such a spectacular fashion, but he just seems over-matched and undone at this point and I think that everyone that is looking at this team can see it. So as much as I have enjoyed having him as a coach and think that he's a great guy, I just can't say that I think he's even close to the best option for Cal football right now. (Wow, that was really terrible/ almost painful to write...)

atomsareenough: Look, I genuinely wanted Tedford to prove the doubters wrong and have a glorious, victorious inaugural season in the renovated Memorial Stadium. I think he's a good man and he's capable of being a good coach. He's done so much for our university and our football program, and he's given us all so many great memories. But instead of a triumphant return to Memorial, things have gone from middling and inconsistent to consistently lousy. There's no indication of an impending turnaround. If we finish the season like we've started it, I hope the administration will not hesitate to pull the trigger. Hell, if things continue like they have and we keep losing through the Big Game on October 20th, I hope they do it in-season and get a head start on the search for a replacement.

It's not just that we're losing games, it's the WAY we're losing them. So many execution errors, mental mistakes, penalties, and general sloppiness. The captain is simply not running a tight ship AT ALL. It's a damn shame too, because the effort level has been high, and our team is fighting hard, we just keep shooting ourselves in the foot. These players are plenty talented, and they have heart and they want to win, but they're not prepared to grab the brass ring right now without tripping all over themselves. I think that's a pretty big indictment of the coaching staff for not having them prepared to execute on game day. If the players just weren't very talented or blessed with great physical skills, but they were playing to the best of their abilities and just coming up short, then it wouldn't be as frustrating. The problem with Colorado, for example, is that they are lacking in talent. But that's not the case with Cal; we have good players who are underperforming pretty much across the board, and that's on the coaching. Our O-line should be big enough and strong enough to not get worked like a turnstile by the opposing defense.

That doesn't even get into my issues with the playcalling, which is worth another post probably. I'll suffice it to say that we seem to be lacking in confidence that we can go out there and just make the plays we need to, to grab the football game by the throat and bring home a victory. The playcalling seems more fearful than confident, and that doesn't seem like a recipe for success.

Anyway, it came a lot quicker than I had expected; this season I was fairly sure we'd take a step forward and I felt that Tedford deserved a couple of years to show he could take the program (back) to the next level. Watching the team in the first few games has made it quite clear to me that it's not going to happen, so it's time to move on.

So guys, when do we start tossing around replacements?

norcalnick: As a general rule, I really don't like making definitive statements in either direction until the entire season is done. If Cal somehow beats UCLA, Stanford and Washington while making a bowl game, I would strongly consider bringing Tedford back. But if the performance so far this season is at all representative of what this team is capable of, then it's hard to argue a change isn't necessary.

For the last two years I've been trying to answer a question that constantly dogs me: How could such a successful coach suddenly become so unsuccessful? I don't think Tedford ever really changed. Assistant coaches came and went and came back, there were some tweaks in practice and game preparation here and there - but the basic philosophies, the core concepts that initially made Tedford so successful and popular in Berkeley . . . I don't think those have changed. And I don't think the game has passed Tedford by or anything like that. Half the conference currently runs various pro-style systems on offense.

All I can think is that Tedford's message is falling on deaf ears. For whatever reason, his style of teaching, his methods, his tactics just aren't as impactful as they once were. Maybe his players have tuned him out after three straight mediocre seasons. Regardless of the reason, the conclusion is hard to avoid: a change is necessary, and might even be beneficial to all parties.

Kodiak: Before this year, I would have said that getting at least two years with the new facilities would be fair. Unfortunately, this year's struggles go beyond a "downward arc" or "negative end." This is more like a wheels-off tire fire. It's a tough business and the costs incurred by the SAHPC and Memorial upgrade are game-changers with regards to expectations. There are simply no more excuses. It's not just the losing; it's the way we're losing. Beating ourselves with penalties. Looking out-coached, undisciplined, and unprepared. Poor game management. Inexplicable decisions. With the debts hanging over our athletic program, I do not believe that we can afford to stay the course.